PEAK BY CHOKER - HIDDEN GEM
Released in May of 2017, Peak is the debut album from Choker, the 22 year-old self-produced singer-song writer from Michigan. Blending hip hop, R&B, and psychedelic rock, Peak is a beautiful collection of experimental sounds and instrumentals, along with well-crafted, thought provoking imagery and lyricism. From its initial value, it is wildly impressive that this young artist produced each track, wrote all lyrics, and sings/raps through the entire album. In a day and age when it is so common to see other recording artists produce and write songs for their colleagues, it is refreshing and assuring to find an artist that produces, writes, and performs their own original music.
"My main recommendation is to approach this album with an open mind and open ears. On first listen, one may be turned off by the different, wide array of sounds that this raw, yet talented artist creates. "
Throughout the entirety of Peak, many common themes emerge for the listener, including dealing with personal relationships, finding love, and inner acceptance of oneself. With his story-telling ability, Choker shares intimate experiences with listeners on numerous tracks on the album, but most notably on the extremely catchy and hard-to-forget “El Dorado”. In this song and others, Choker is able to portray different relationships he has been in through deeply encoded lyrics and meaningful sounds. While this same theme emerges time and time again on the album, it is unclear whether Choker is talking about one lover or many. Regardless of this, it is clear that Choker has the ability to depict his tumultuous and dynamic relationships through sound, for which he uses to brilliantly connect with the listener.
The most notable and popular track on the album, “Moksha”, is one such example of Choker’s ability to portray the inner workings of a relationship through a beautifully introspective song. Intertwining arcade-gaming sounds with lullaby chimes, “Moksha” depicts Choker’s relationship with a lover who challenged his inner self and spirituality. As detailed by the Berkley Center for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs, the term Moksha is taken from the Hinduism religion used to describe one’s liberation from the cycle of reincarnation. This inner freedom from the sufferings of life and death forms what seems to be a goal for Choker through the album as he handles life and love, all while contemplating his inner self.
Stand out lines from “Moksha”, “We spoke ‘bout Cain and Moksha. I said that’s two different books, she said it’s all the same laws”, truly captivates the artist’s feel for spirituality. Despite referencing two world religions, the story of Cain and Abel from the Bible and Moksha from Hinduism, Choker’s lover makes him realize that regardless of religious differences, humans should treat each other with equal laws of nature- meaning love, respect, kindness, etc- while sharing share this Earth.
While “El Dorado” and “Moksha” are easily among the top songs on the album, dual-tracked “Diorama” may be the best example of Choker’s mastery of creating beautiful emotion and sound. Catchy lines from “Diorama”, such as, “Let’s take a trip to the coast, f***k around and steal a boat” leave the listener smiling along with Choker’s carefree, head-over-heels in love, reckless personality with his lover. This being said, however, the best verse of the album comes at the last two minutes of the album’s last song, “Lush”. Through his delivery, sound, and lyricism, along with Peak’s raw and brilliant production, the mostly unknown artist Choker draws many comparisons to the ever-dynamic and illusive Frank Ocean.
My main recommendation is to approach this album with an open mind and open ears. On first listen, one may be turned off by the different, wide array of sounds that this raw, yet talented artist creates. We, as listeners and consumers of music, are often attracted to a recording artist or a brand of genre for that same general feel or for the familiar sound the music provides us.
Peak may sound like an entirely new genre to some listeners, while still blending familiar sounds of hip hop, R&B, and psychedelic rock. This being said, it took me three or four full listens to fully appreciate the intention and feel behind this album. At first what seemed like an untamed assortment of tracks, each with their own unique sound, soon became an intricate and beautiful blend of sound and emotion. With each listen thereafter, my ears pick up something new, as I gain an appreciation for some of Choker’s deeply encoded and personal lyrics. Overall, Peak is a wonderfully crafted introduction into what will hopefully be a successful musical career for the young artist. Even though it was released over a year ago, Peak continues to be one of my top plays to this day. Pursue all of the emotions on this album and be prepared to hear the growth of this newly emerging artist on his second album, titled Honeybloom, released in July of 2018.
ALWAYS IN PURSUIT
The Collective Co.